Fresh text, familiar tune for new College hymn

02 Dec 2021

College boys sing hundreds of hymns every year, but as of 2022 there will be a special new one in the repertoire – “The Christ’s College Hymn.”

Born in the Chapel, and based on the Christian scriptures and College virtues, the new hymn echoes the College waiata “Whakamanawa Ki Te Atua” and will have its first official public airing at the Festival of Lessons & Carols this Friday 3 December.

“It’s all very appropriate because the Chapel and the Christian virtues taught within are a foundation of College life,” says Director of Music Robert Aburn.

“It’s been a long time coming. We haven’t had a purpose-written College hymn in the history of the College. The creation of this new hymn is a way of Chapel life reflecting the virtues of College life, and vice versa. The words are really important and Marnie Barrell has done a marvellous job in creating the text which reflects who we are, but also what we believe and what we aspire to be.”

Marnie Barrell is a noted New Zealand hymn writer; many of her texts are already included in College’s latest hymn book.

Organist Nick Sutcliffe says the new hymn is customized perfectly for College.

“It is a bespoke hymn for us at this time. It looks to the past and it looks to the future. The Chapel Choir has enjoyed learning it, and enjoys singing it. It encapsulates the place of College in Chapel life, and it includes the school motto and a key phrase in te reo.”

The tune, the familiar Dambuster’s March written in 1954 by Eric Coates, has a well-known melody and immediately got the thumbs up from the Chapel Choir.

“The boys enjoyed the music, and could see how the Christian message, the College virtues and the waiata all came together perfectly in the new work.”

To be sung on a regular basis in Chapel, the hymn will first be taught by the choir to the wider school community and then be sung regularly at College functions and events.

The Chapel Choir first sang the hymn on Wednesday 1 December in its private farewell to retiring Chaplain Bosco Peters, to acknowledge the role he has played over the past 24 years in Chapel life. Marnie Barrell was among the congregation. As the choir’s own gift to Bosco, in acknowledgement of this spiritual leadership, leading internationally renowned New Zealand choral composer David Hamilton was commissioned to compose a setting of Micah 6:8 “To walk with your God”, which is a Biblical passage very special to Bosco.

“This is an evocative work, and one that the choir has immensely enjoyed rehearsing and will feature in their programme for years to come,” says Robert.